No API for Vietnamese Web Services?

I came back from Google DevFest with a big question in mind. I care less about how all the programming is done, but more about how the end-products can end up with a revenue stream.

I turned to Tai Tran and asked him about API for web services in Vietnam, for example, social networks such as yume.vn.

Here was his answer: forget about it.

Certainly, hailing from a non-technical background, I’m in no position to give an opinion of how technology should be done in Vietnam. I’ve seen a lot of Vietnamese developers talking about what they can do with their ability. But to a certain extent, I don’t see why most of the emerging web 2.0 still sound somewhat 1.9 to me.

Let’s talk a bit about the so-called Facebook clones: TGB, Tamtay.vn, Yousecond, Faceviet, and the other clones of others. Chip had a nice coverage on that so there’s no need for me to repeat the words. I will say those clones miss the whole point of Facebook: a platform. It’s like socialism to communism in some way ^ ^. But that’s it, Facebook is not only about getting people connected, but also about giving people something that they can work on regardless of the OS they’re using. Let’s say it’s a cloud computing environment for the average Joes.

I am against cloning. Why do Vietnamese always take pride in their creativity and now they do nothing but copying people’s ideas? There were lively examples of cloners who do way better than the original thinker though. Take the Chinese twitter clone for example. But, forget it, it’s China. They can clone everything and outdo the rest of the world. We haven’t reached that level yet :)

So, without an API from which third-party applications can be built, what could these clones do? Nothing. They will die very soon considering the current market developments. I’m waiting for Bryan Pelz to upload his presetation on Vietnam Online: A macro view on a troubled but growing market by Bryan/Vinagame. There’s no time to hang out anymore, primetime is over. Even Facebook itself is troubled, if they don’t make money now, someone has to step down like Jerry Yang :) , or even worse.

I was fascinated by Friendster presentation at Google Devfest. They openned up their API, and also let developers build applications via OpenSocial. They allow developers to make money from the following way:

  • CPM Advertising
  • Lead Generation, CPA Ads (cost per
  • acquisition, surveys)
  • Subscription Services
  • Commerce (virtual goods, virtual currency)
  • Integrated Sponsorships (brand advertisers)
  • Mobile (sms, mobile sites)

Certainly from a developer’s point of view, i would spend some time writing a cool app and make money from the pool of users that Friendster has as the number 1 social network in Asia. But the nice thing about it is that I get all the money.

This is way too smart. Developers get money. Friendster gets more users with minimum marketing efforts. As the application ecosystem grows, its userbase grows. And all they have to worry about is to think how to make money from the different types of model.

But they themselves have troubles in Vietnam though. With all the markets going down, job cuts and recession news, companies are cutting back their spending on advertising. As Bryan pointed it out, and echoed by Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, recession is the time when online advertising soars. The same thing cannot be said for the Vietnamese market though, as online advertising is still very new and people are generally afraid to jump on the bandwagon. So I doubt if Friendster can make a lot of money out of it, but at least they have the scale.

So somebody aurgued about scaling, saying that when, for example, Facebook reached a scale of several hundred million users, they would make a lot of money. Is it true? Simon Christy and Thomas Wanhoff had some very interseting ideas about this. I’m not entirely clear but scale only matters when it’s relavent. Say, if I place my ads on Facebook, isn’t it the same kind of mass marketing to the entire userbase that I often did it with TVCs or printed ads.

Tai Tran may argue about semantec web where ads are placed “artificially intelligently”. But that requires a lot of brain power though :) We’ll see how Facebook makes money from this new advertising model.

I know I’ve just entered an uncharted territory. Somebody needs to correct me if I’m wrong.

So, my question is, will a lack of APIs which eventually leads to the establishment of social networks and web 2.0 services as a platform affect their future revenue?

My answer: Yes. What about yours?

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2 Responses to No API for Vietnamese Web Services?

  1. Duc Ban says:

    Good question, Hung. My answer is Yes, too. But maybe it’s too soon to ask these cloning about their APIs.

    Web 2.0 is not a website, it’s a service. You register in a website to use its service. I have tried all of Vietnamese start-ups, and I couldn’t found any good service to use.

    I really don’t care if any Web 2.0 have a platform or not, I just want to use it. Twitter was suck before they converted their system from Ruby on Rails to PHP. Who’s care? We use Twitter because its service. This service is the reason why the developers using Twitter APIs system to build Twitter’s applications. Who will build application for Tamtay using Tamtay APIs system?

    Don’t ask any Vietnamese start-ups about APIs system while they don’t have any good feature in their features list, what can make the users think they can’t live without it.

  2. Pingback: Fresco 2.0 » Blog Archive » What if our web 2.0 services disappear?

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